July 25, 2013

parenting and the playground

The heat and humidity has finally subsided a bit around here so we've been stopping at the park pretty much every day after work and school.

Yesterday was absolutely the most perfect day: blue skies; very little humidity; temperature cool enough for pants, warm enough to have to sit in the shade after a bit.

Just perfect.

The park we went to yesterday was one that freaked me out at first time we went because Lovie had no fear, but I sure did. Nowadays, I let her do her thing... but now she's become more hesitant and fearful. The slides she used to flock to and slide down with such glee now cause her to hesitate.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, on one hand I want her to pause to think before she just jumps into things but on the other hand, at just 3.5, do I really want her afraid of so many things? It's bad enough any little (and I do mean little) bug freaks her out, but now she's afraid of sliding?

For now, I've just been trying to encourage her to do her thing but if she's fearful, that's okay too. She can try again another time, I tell her. And that other time is generally when a "friend" she's just met and is playing with does something she was, just moments earlier, afraid of.

Speaking of friends, she played with two little girls yesterday at two separate times. I try to encourage her to talk more to kids, to tell them her name and ask if they want to play, but as of yesterday, she still waits to be approached. She loves playing with other kids and gets so super excited when someone asks if she wants to play, but, for some reason (and I'm praying she's not picking this up from anti-social me), she won't do the approaching.

Anyhow, the second little girl she was playing with before we left the park saddened me. She leached onto Lovie so hard, I thought Lovie might freak a bit. I know I would've. As soon as Lovie agreed to play with her, the girl (the same size as Lovie), took Lovie's hand.

I thought it was cute at first until I realized that it was also very awkward... especially when I saw the apprehension in Lovie. But I pushed my feelings aside and smiled and watched them from afar.

The little girl wouldn't let Lovie out of her sight and grasp. At one point, I thought the little girl had hurt her arm when she slid down a side-by-side slide and Lovie didn't--even though their hands were joined. (A year ago, Lovie loved this slide.)

As I watched them play, I continued to note how the little girl dominated their play time. Lovie was fine and she's got to learn when to say No if she doesn't want to do something with a "friend" so I just sat by and watched, while wondering "Who does this child belong to?" I saw not one person watching her. Did someone just drop this child off and go? Is that why she leached on to Lovie so hard?

I began to feel a bit uneasy. And sad.

After about 20 minutes (we had been there at least an hour at this point), I finally had to tell Lovie that it would be time to go when the alarm on my phone sounded. And when that time came, Lovie said goodbye to her friend and we walked toward the car where I noticed, for the first time, that there was another car next to it (the cars are in plain sight, this car must've just pulled in moments prior to us leaving).

"Daddy! Daddy!!" the little girl whom Lovie was playing with shouted.

A man in his 20s at most, stepped out of the car next to mine and annoyingly said, "What?"

The little girl said something else and the dad seemed even more annoyed as he started walking toward the little girl.

I loaded Lovie into the car and kept my eye on the girl and her dad and a woman (mother? girlfriend? cousin?). He was pushing her on the swings and she was covered in a big smile.

I closed Lovie's door and walked around my car (facing the playground) and sat down, and in that time, the dad was gone... yet the girl still sat on the swings trying to swing and looking in back of her and screaming for her dad to play with her.

Her dad was no longer on the playground; rather, he was in the grass area throwing a football to someone.

He looked at the girl but ignored her.

And with that, I had to pull away and leave.

No, I have no clue what the deal is with that little girl and her dad. Maybe they had just spent hours playing together and he just needed a little break.

But I get the feeling that is not the case.

And I drove away feeling quite sad for that little girl.

And a bit angry at that "dad".


  1. Oh, I hope that that dad plays with his child more than he doesn't. I hope that he just needed a little break when you were watching.

  2. Ugh. This shit KILLS me. I have to hope this is not a growing trend... because I just read this yesterday: http://www.danoah.com/2010/09/you-just-broke-your-child.html

    1. and now I'm in tears Sara. ugh ugh UGH!! I don't get some parents. I just don't get it. (also, I just recently discovered that blog!)

    2. I know! It totally made me sob like a fool at work.

      Also, this is why I'm always nice to the weird kids. Maybe they'll see that not all grown-ups are dicks?

  3. I have found that I am most disappointed in other parents when I am on a playground. I thought I was just being too judgmental. But maybe on the playground is where it gets most real???


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